A UN expert says Russia, China and companies in Singapore top the list of those sending weapons to the military accused of abuses.
A United Nations expert said Myanmar’s military has imported at least $1 billion worth of weapons since it seized power in February 2021, despite “overwhelming evidence of its responsibility for atrocity crimes”.
Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said in a report that most of the weapons came from Russia, China and companies in Singapore. [PDF] Released on Wednesday in New York.
Exports include weapons, dual-use technology, and materials used to manufacture weapons that were exported from the day of the coup, February 1, 2021, to December 2022.
“These weapons and the materials needed to manufacture more of them continued to flow uninterruptedly to the Myanmar army despite overwhelming evidence of its responsibility for atrocity crimes,” the report stated. Identified over 12,500 unique purchases or shipments recorded directly to the Myanmar military or known Myanmar arms dealers working on behalf of the military.
“The variety and volume of goods provided to the Myanmar army since the coup is staggering,” she added, noting that the army has transferred weapons and equipment from combat aircraft to drones, communications equipment and components for naval ships.
Myanmar has been plunged into crisis by the coup, which sparked mass protests. The deadly crackdown has ignited armed resistance, as armed ethnic groups long fighting the army have joined forces with the so-called People’s Defense Forces (PDF) to fight against the generals.
The PDF is aligned with the National Unity Government (NUG) set up by lawmakers removed in the coup and others who oppose military rule.
The United Nations and rights groups have accused the military of human rights abuses in its attempts to suppress dissent, saying some of the incidents may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In his report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Andrews referred to last month’s attack on the village of Bazegi in the central Sagaing region, where reports indicate almost daily confrontations between resistance forces and soldiers.
As about 300 villagers, including children, gathered to celebrate the opening of the NUG’s new office, a Russian-made Yak-130 fighter jet dropped two 250 kg (550 lb) bombs on the crowd.
The report stated that “the decree exploded with a fatal blow – tearing apart the corpses of men, women and children, turning their skin to ashes, and inflicting grievous wounds with shrapnel.”
Amidst the carnage, the attack continued as two Mi-35 attack helicopters fired on the survivors and those trying to help the wounded.
The report indicated that at least 160 people were killed, and the remains of only 59 people were identified.
The newspaper said: “The attack is another example of possible crimes committed by the Myanmar military junta against humanity and war crimes against the people of Myanmar.”
No doubt about the buyer
According to the report, Russian entities were the source of $406 million in weapons and related equipment, China $254 million and entities operating in Singapore $254 million.
Weapons were also sent from entities in India ($51 million) and Thailand ($28 million).
State-owned entities in Russia, China and India were among those identified as exporters.
“More than $947 million of the identified arms-related trade went directly to entities controlled by the Myanmar military — for example, the Directorate of Procurement, the Directorate of Defense Industries, or specific branches of the military such as the Myanmar Air Force or the Tatmadaw Basic Training School.” The report said.
“This means that the Army itself is listed as a recipient on documents related to the trade, removing any doubt about the identity of the final recipient.”
Andrews said he has shared his findings with the governments involved.
In their response, Russia and China accused the Special Rapporteur of going beyond his mandate and “discrediting the legitimate arms trade”.
Meanwhile, India said the arms contracts involving state-owned companies were signed by a previous government.
Andrews noted that he had found no information indicating that entities owned or controlled by the governments of Singapore or Thailand, or the governments themselves, had approved or transferred the weapons to the Myanmar military, and it appears that arms dealers were using the land to transfer weapons. outside their business “specifically the banking and shipping sectors”.
As a result of the report, Andrews said, the Singapore government has indicated that it is reviewing the effectiveness of its export controls.
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